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En Route

BB 120CD BB 120CD

"En Route was created in 1986, when the era of analog synths and rhythm machines seemed to be drawing to a close. Drum computers, samplers and digital instruments such as the Synclavier and Fairlight CMS would shape the immediate future of electronic music. Naturally, these wonderful machines formed a part of Conny Plank's arsenal and were used extensively by him and Dieter Moebius. The duo explored the new devices with their inimitable, cheerful sense of abandon, but were wise enough not to rely on them entirely. Analog instruments resurface time and again, such as trumpet (!), guitar and other sonic sources which are less easy to identify. Nor had Moebius packed his analog synthesizers away in mothballs. Rhythmic throughout, the music is wholly free of the darkness which characterized the fashionable industrial or new wave scenes of the period. A tendency to descend into enraptured sonic abstraction is similarly absent. The pieces almost sound as if they are the product of real-time improvisation -- airy and self-evident, ballast-free and without unnecessary embellishment. En Route is hip electronic music, yet it steers well clear of the mainstream. The fact that three tracks were remixed for a commission by Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) did nothing to change that. Stewart was planning a film project (which never came to fruition) and hired producer Manu Guiot, who reshaped the tracks together with Dieter Moebius shortly before release in Conny's studio. Moebius and Plank were en route, "on the way," so to speak. Sadly, it was to be the last in a sequence of five albums they recorded and released together. Conceived in 1983, Ludwig's Law was the fourth album in chronological terms but only appeared in 1998. Debilitated by severe illness, Plank was no longer able to mix the recordings himself. His studio colleague Bruno Gebhard took on the task, together with Moebius. Shortly afterwards, in 1987, Conny Plank died. The common path of the two friends was now at an end. But En Route was certainly not intended to mark the conclusion of their lengthy collaboration. For how much of the future, how much optimism is implicit in the certitude of being en route?" --Asmus Tietchens